Student Debt and the Housing Market: Not As Badly Paired As You’d Think

Photo credit: Julia Rowe | Flickr

Photo credit: Julia Rowe | Flickr

This just in from the Department of Misconception Debunking: student loan debt in and of itself does not, we repeat, does not prevent young would-be homebuyers from purchasing a house. Of course, you try telling that to a money-strapped millennial frantically searching for a job that’ll help them pay off their loans quicker, let alone a house. Go on. We dare you.

Obviously, we’ve wholly accepted the idea that massive student loan debt is one of the major factors contributing to a still laggy housing market. But as we’ve just said, this is not necessarily the case. According to a new report from Zillow, it’s only certain kinds of student loan debt situations that hold people back from buying. In some cases, it really just delays the process. To be sure, the shades of grey are somewhat distinct, plus there are other life variables to consider. Here’s what Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell says about it in a press release:

“Student debt isn’t the evil-doer it’s made out to be, at least not when it comes to homeownership. As long as students stay in school and get a degree, student debt doesn’t deter them from homeownership, although it is possible that student debt could delay homeownership. People in their 20s and 30s are renting longer because they’re delaying marriage, paying a lot in rent, and struggling to qualify for a mortgage when they finally find an affordable home. Add to that list that they are paying off student debt.”

And with that, we present to you what homeownership odds are like as a result of student debt…

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House Hunting Habits: Millennial Edition

Justin Wolfe | Flickr

Justin Wolfe | Flickr

We told you on Friday about the shaky confidence people have in the house-buying market. You know, how homeowners are feeling good about the current market, but wary of the one to come; while renters are a little more optimistic. Well, today we’re zeroing in on a segment of the population likely to fall into the latter group: millennials.

As we mentioned in our last post, the number of young Philadelphia renters who’d said earlier this year that they would be down for buying a house within a year increased by 23 percent by the time July came around. It’s a timely coincidence, then, that we’ve gotten hold of a report by Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS that took a look at what millennials, “the largest group of recent home buyers nationally,” are looking for. Here’s what they found:

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Philly Renters Feeling More Confident About Buying a Home

How are you feeling about the future market, Philly? Mixed-emotions maybe? We’re about to find out, as Zillow has just released their Housing Confidence Index report, which shows just how select metro areas feel about their homes and home-buying expectations.

In national data gathered from surveys taken by 10,000 renters and homeowners in January and July, Zillow found that 18 percent of Philadelphia renters in July said they were hoping to buy within a year, a number up from the 8 percent in January who’d said they planned on doing this. Zillow attributes the hike in the home-buying spirit to a slow-up in home value growth:

Home value growth has slowed in almost all housing markets this year, giving homebuyers some breathing room. In those markets with marked slowdowns, many more buyers are looking to buy their first home.

To be sure, the January crowd were in the midst of a 3.1 percent annual rise in home values, while the July group was seeing Philly home values flattening out.

What’s more, a good amount of these would-be homebuyers are millennials  – i.e. ladies and gents between ages 18 and 34. According to Zillow’s report, these young Philadelphia renters who answered with the home-buying positive in January increased by 23 percent in July.

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Here Are 6 Tips to Keep Your Home Prepped For an Open House

Dave Rosenblum | Flickr

Realtors agree, clean curb appeal goes a long way to making a great first impression. Dave Rosenblum | Flickr

Confession time: I’ve done a horrible job of keeping my home ready for Open House days.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been viewed at its best, but there’s simply no excuse for the few times it has left potential buyers wondering what kind of uncivilized people live there. I like to blame these mortifying instances on a fateful combination of the house being too big and too easily cluttered (which is why I want a trinity), coupled with impromptu visits by selling agents who opt to reach out a few hours before stopping by. (I kid you not, twice they’ve shown up an hour before the appointed time!)

Really, though, we should have the house ready to go at any time of the day. Thankfully, JustListed came across a list I have in good mind to follow to a tee: every one of these points will help you keep your house clean for unexpected showings. Whew.

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Today’s First-Time Homebuyers Are Late Bloomers Compared to Those From Decades Ago

Know any millennials still on the rent bandwagon and with little to no aspiration to buy a house any time soon? It would be surprising if you don’t. According to a new Zillow report, first-time homebuyers tend to rent for an average of six years before signing off on a mortgage and are likely to be older, single, and spending a larger portion of their income compared to first-timers in the 1970 and 80s.

Indeed, if you want to get number-specific, first-time homebuyers from the 1970s rented for an average of 2.6 years, almost three times less than they do now. Moreover, they bought homes for about 1.7 times their income, while their millennial counterparts go for houses that cost 2.6 times their annual income. Age-wise, the 1970s and 80s saw its first-timers at 29 and 30 years old; today, the average first-time homebuyer is 33.

So, what exactly is behind this postponement by today’s young grown-ups? Dr. Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist, attributes it to a general slowing down in life milestones:  “Millennials are delaying all kinds of major life decisions, like getting married and having kids, so it makes sense that they would also delay buying a home,” she says.

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Rent Watch: Philly’s 3 Most Expensive ‘Hoods for a 1-Bedroom Apartment

It’s the middle of the summer and chances are good that you might be looking for a new place to live. We have a map that is going to be quite handy for you when it comes to figuring out that delicate balance of where you want to live, and then what you can actually afford.

Rental site Zumper recently compiled a list of the median 1-bedroom monthly rental rates for each pocket of the city. It’s all boiled down into this handy color-coded map that will give you an idea of where the action is and how much it’s going to cost you.

Here is the map

Up, Up, Up!: The Latest Housing Report for Bucks County

On the heels of a BHHS HomExpert report that saw an increase in Philadelphia home sales within the first six months of the year comes a new set of findings, this time from one of Philly’s surrounding counties: Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS have released their Market Research from TREND MLS Data in Bucks County.

The takeaways? For one thing, Bucks has seen a 3.8 percent hike in its inventory unit levels, meaning that compared to June of last year, this past June saw 169 more homes on sale. CBH REALTORS President Jaime Mancuso attributes this rise to a boost in property sales, according to a press release – emphasis ours:

“Based on the trend lines we’ve seen over the past year, we believe buyers have more choices because of the increased inventory provided by inspired sellers, who have seen that homes on the market are moving quickly in Bucks County. However, unlike what we saw in 2006 and 2007, the market remains healthy because there have not been inflated price increases.”

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Headlines: Where Does Philly Rank for First Time Home Buyers?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the state of the real estate market in Philadelphia. We know that home sales are up across the board in the Second Quarter (good news), but overall, how does Philly stack up to other cities when it comes to the all-important first time home buyer?

A new report from personal finance website WalletHub shows Philly sits smack dab in the middle of the pack at number 31 of a list of 62  “large cities” (over 300,000 people), clustered with a group that includes New Orleans (29), Minneapolis (30), San Antonio (32) and San Diego (33). For what it’s worth, Pittsburgh, with its population around 305,000 people, is ranked 8th on the list of large cities

However, for those first time home buyers looking to live in one of the most populous cities in the the United States, Philly is among the best. Only Houston (15) ranks higher on the list.

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RealtyTrac Says Philly Was Still Mired in Foreclosure Filings Last Year


In spite of national foreclosure filings taking a dip in 2014, RealtyTrac says their data and analysis of the Greater Philadelphia Area found it “still mired in foreclosures, short sales, and bank repossessions” last year.

Oh, bother.

According to the Inquirer, RealtyTrac’s report mentions distressed homes and zombie properties that depress prices in certain neighborhoods as the culprits. Also noted are slow-moving judicial foreclosure backlogs:

“The list of states with increased activity in the last months of 2014 includes those with judicial foreclosure backlogs, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.”

Such backlogs mean that in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the foreclosure process often takes three years or more. Many mortgage lenders deferred pursuing foreclosures because of the backlogs, and the 2014 increase reflected attempts to catch up.

H/T: Foreclosures down nationwide, still increasing in Phila. region [Inquirer]

Redfin Predicts Philly’s Housing Market Will Be a “Sleeper” in 2015

Photo credit: Flicker user Jeanette Runyon.

Photo credit: Flicker user Jeanette Runyon.

Glance at the latest reports on Philly’s housing market and you find a city with an improving economy, slowly burgeoning job opportunities, and a rising number of new constructions. Reading Redfin’s most recent 2015 prediction chart on the topic, however, humbles our town down to “sleeper” status in the face of “stalwarts” like Houston, Chicago and Dallas.

So how did the real estate brokerage come to that conclusion? For one thing, they didn’t just look at national averages since market level data doesn’t usually show the “widely varying conditions” in the numbers. Instead, they took a closer look at each market and came up with six housing personas, all of which are identified as such:  Read more »

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